Heritage, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 1996 Page: 16
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This map shows Camp Ford in relation to present-day Tyler. From the publication "Camp Ford" by Dr. Robert W. Glover and Randal B. Gilbert. Published by the
Smith County Historical Society and reprinted with permission.
urged his superiors to consider relocating
the prisoners closer to the sources of supply.
In addition to the usual ration of beef
and cornmeal the prisoners often supplemented
their diets with vegetables and
food that they purchased from the farmers
in the neighborhood. Occasionally, Confederate
authorities permitted farmers in
the neighborhood to come to the stockade
and ply their produce. Lieutenant Colonel
J.C. Jemison, one of the commanders
at Camp Ford, allowed prisoners to gather
greens and vegetables outside the stockade
as a remedy for scurvy. He also gave
three regiments permission to fence and
cultivate a garden in a field near the stockade.
Another major problem for the prisoners
was adequate clothing. The majority of
the inmates had to get by with the clothing
they were wearing when captured. When
these wore out, it was a matter of ingenuity
for them to patch them up or try to fashion
a new garment from blanket scraps or other
material at hand. The resulting appearance
of these pieced-together clothes was ludicrous
even to the prisoners. Their appearance
and clothing beggared description,
according to one, "with hat of rimless crowns
and crownless rims...armless shirts and leg
Escapes from Camp
Ford were not difficult...
The most elaborate
efforts were tunneling,
several of which were
attempted and a few
Other methods included
forging false passes and
just walking away, to
concealment in refuse
carts to be hauled off.
less trousers, bits of blankets tied around
the loins; such scarecrow figures of humanity".
Under such living conditions, sickness
was widespread and medical care too primitive
for much relief. The sickness must
have been fairly well contained at Camp
Ford for one prisoner recalled the health of
the prisoners was "remarkable" and out of
130 of his regiment only two were lost
during their 14 months of confinement.
Little medicine and few medical supplies
were available to the prisoners. Since no
hospital facilities were provided by the
Confederates, the prisoners asked for and
received permission to construct a hospital
building. The working parties located the
structure outside the stockade about 400
yards down the road toward Tyler. They
built a single-room house, 48 feet long and
18 feet wide. When more space was needed,
volunteers from the 19th Kentucky Infantry
Regiment erected a small addition, measuring
36 feet by 8 feet. According to one
federal officer, the rooms were "airy" and
the beds were kept clean.
However, the hospital seems to have
been the last resort, as was true in other
prison camps. The men were resourceful in
concocting their own primitive remedies
for various ailments. Typical is the account
of one soldier from the 3rd Rhode Island
Cavalry, who, upon finding the doctor could
not give him anything for the itch, took a
bath of salt water and had a good wash in
lye water, all of which seemed to have
relieved him considerably.
16 HERITAGE *SUMMER 1996
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 1996, periodical, Summer 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45405/m1/16/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.